U.S. History / Middle School

Voices of the Transatlantic Slave Trade

How can we better understand America’s past and present by listening to often omitted and unheard voices from the slave trade?

This unit begins by asking students to consider life in Africa before colonization and the forced enslavement of Africans. Students read Omar ibn Said’s autobiography to understand the Islamic scholar’s experiences before he was captured in West Africa and after he was enslaved in America. Excerpts from Olaudah Equiano’s autobiography provide a detailed glimpse of his childhood in Africa before he was kidnapped and sold into slavery. Students examine these two stories and others for evidence of resistance, liberation, connection to culture, and shared humanity as they develop a response to the question: How can we better understand America’s past and present by listening to often omitted and unheard voices from the slave trade? Working in teams, students create a podcast about an unheard story in order to start a conversation about the lasting effects of the Transatlantic slave trade and the importance of Black history in America.

Unit length: 3 weeks (14 hours)

Download from OER Commons or Canvas Commons.

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